Sisters-in-law Heidi Routley of Vernon (left) and Kiley Routley of Lavington will sleep outside Friday, July 10, to raise money and awareness for Covenant House Vancouver, a society that works with and for homeless youth. (Photo contributed)

North Okanagan relatives to sleep outside for homeless youth

Sisters-in-law Kiley Routley and Heidi Routley raising funds, awareness for Covenant House Vancouver

Two North Okanagan women will voluntarily give up the comforts of their beds and bedrooms for one night and sleep outside to raise money and awareness for B.C.’s homeless youth.

Kiley Routley, owner-operator of Lavington’s Back To Earth organic shop, and her sister-in-law, Heidi Routley, will sleep under the stars Friday, July 10, so young people can sleep safely at Covenant House Vancouver.

“We will sleep out in an uncomfortable place outside for one night in solidarity with hundreds of young people who have nowhere else to go every night,” said Kiley as she and Heidi take part in Sleep Out: Home Edition. “It is a way to show these young people that we care.”

In Vancouver, a road is blocked off and people taking part in Sleep Out will doze on a piece of cardboard. For the Routleys, they will sleep in their chosen uncomfortable place outside, which is behind the Back To Earth production facility in Lavington, and people are asked to honk their support as they drive by.

One of Kiley’s dearest friends is involved with Covenant House and Routley has been throwing her support behind the society for the past four years.

“I’ve never done this before, but a lot of people have. I’m looking forward to it,” said Routley, whose Back To Earth company has donated more than $10,000 in cash and product to various fundraisers over the past year, including Sleep Out. “It’s one thing to make donations, it’s another to take action. When you take the time to put yourself out there, you humble yourself to think this is what it’s like for so many people without homes.

“It will be a powerful experience.”

Homelessness, said Routley, has many faces. It can look like a young person sleeping in a doorway or other times it might be someone asking you to spare some change. Often it shows itself as a shared glance from a broken soul.

“I will be Sleeping Out for one night with Heidi and other members of our community to show homeless youth that we care,” she said. “But it is not about pretending to be homeless. It is about showing a group of young people that they are worthy of unconditional love and absolute respect, and proving that we care enough about them to be uncomfortable for one night; to be vulnerable so they can be safe.”

The Routleys have already raised enough money to help more than 10 homeless youth with things like counselling and programs. You can still donate to the cause here.

Covenant House Vancouver exists for those young people for whom there is often no one else; young people aged 16 – 24 who have fled physical, emotional and/or sexual abuse, those who have been forced from their homes or those who have aged out of foster care. Covenant House relies on the generosity of more than 55,000 individuals and organizations to provide shelter, food, clothing and counselling to over 1,100 youth each year.

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